Domestic Violence in Arizona

Domestic Violence Attorneys in Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ

Domestic Violence is a serious issue.

If you worried that you or your children are in danger, you should seek help and advice from a professional.  This is not the time to make excuses for the offending ex; this is the time to admit the abuse for what it is: intolerable and inexcusable. It’s time to protect yourself and your children.

Sadly, domestic violence is prevalent in Maricopa County. When domestic violence has seeped into a couple’s relationship or the family as a whole, the members of the family must be on guard throughout the dissolution proceedings. If you believe that the offending ex will re-offend or has re-offended, it may be necessary for you to obtain an order of protection.

 

 

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The Courts Can Help Protect You From Domestic Violence

There are four different types of Orders that may be filed: Order of Protection, Emergency Order of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment and Injunction Against Workplace Harassment. Relevant orders pertaining to domestic violence are the Order of Protection, Emergency Order of Protection or an injunction Against Harassment.

Protection Orders are orders prohibiting a specific person from making contact with you such as coming near your home, school, workplace, or other locations listed on the Order of Protection. Orders are based on the relationship you have with the party you are seeking protection from. Orders of Protection can be issued by any court in Arizona, regardless of the location of the plaintiff and defendant. They must be served by a police officer, deputy sheriff or process server. They can be issued either ex parte (with only one person present) or after a hearing. Both are good for one year after service on the defendant. Only the judge can terminate or change them.

The purpose of an Order of Protection is to restrain another person from committing an act of domestic violence, as defined in A.R.S.13-3601A, prohibit a defendant from coming in contact with you, and provide you with some legal recourse if the person served with a protective order violates the order.

Getting an Order of Protection

TO BE GRANTED AN ORDER, YOU MUST BE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • A partner/spouse or former partner/spouse of the defendant or a person of the opposite sex that resides or resided in the same household.
  • A parent of a child of the defendant.
  • Pregnant by the defendant.
  • Related to the defendant or the defendant’s ex by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother- in-law or sister-in-law.
  • A child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to an ex of the defendant or to a person of the opposite sex who resides or who has resided in the same household as the defendant.
More Information On Domestic Violence

Filing an Order of Protection

To obtain an order of protection, proceed to your local courthouse. There is a video online at: http://www.azcourts.gov/domesticviolencelaw/Home.aspx for you to obtain further information about filing for an Order of Protection. In the Northeast Courthouse, for  example,  there  is  a  Domestic  Violence  Center, adjacent to the filing windows. As you enter the center, an employee will direct you to a computer to file your petition for the Order Of Protection. (You may request that  information  regarding  your  current  address,  phone  number  and employment be kept confidential and not be disclosed to the defendant.)

The petition asks you a number of questions, including your name, address, the defendant’s name and address, and whether you have any children together. Most importantly, you will have the opportunity to write and explain three (3) instances when you have been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of the defendant. You may also request that information regarding your current address, phone number and employment be kept confidential and not be disclosed to the defendant.

Keep in mind that an Order of Protection does not take effect on the person until the Order is both entered and legally served on the person against whom protection is sought. This means the defendant is officially notified of the legal restrictions placed on him or her.

Emergency Order of Protection

If you need emergency relief on weekends, at night or on legal holidays you may need an Emergency Order of Protection.  If needed follow the following steps:

  1. Contact your local law enforcement agency and file a complaint.
  2. Law enforcement will review the situation and determine whether a domestic violence situation exists.
  3. After the police officer obtains information, he or she will contact the Initial Appearance Court.
  4. The Court will then determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person seeking the Order is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence.
  5. If the court finds immediate danger exists it will authorize the officer to issue an Emergency Order of Protection.
  6. The officer will obtain a file number and then serve the Order on the
  7. Important: The Emergency Order of Protection is valid only until 5:00 p.m. the next business day and that person obtaining the Order must go to Court and request an extension of the Order.

If the Court is closed for business, Emergency Orders of Protection are granted by a judge in writing, verbally, or telephonically to protect a person who is in imminent danger of domestic violence, and available from local law enforcement agencies. If this is not an imminent situation, contact the local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

Often times families are under the misconception that a perpetrator of domestic violence is not dangerous to children. They are. Domestic violence in a home with children will impact their lives forever. These facts demonstrate the need for parents, families, communities and the courts to know about and understand domestic violence.

Children whose mothers are victims of domestic abuse are twice as likely to be abused themselves as compared to those children whose mothers are not victims of abuse.

In about 43 percent of households where intimate partner violence occurs the couples have children under the age of 12.

A recent study of low-income preschool children in Michigan found that nearly half (46.7 percent) of the children in the study had been exposed to at least one incident of mild or severe violence in the family.

Children who had been exposed to violence suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as bed-wetting or nightmares, and were at greater risk than their peers of having allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and flu.

Battered women are not the only victims of abuse–it is estimated that anywhere between 3.3 million and 10 million children witness domestic violence annually.

Research demonstrates that exposure to violence can have serious negative effects on children’s development.

At least 85% of children who live in violent homes are eyewitnesses, attempt to intervene, and/or experience the violence from behind closed doors.

When children witness violence in the home, they have been found to suffer many of the symptoms that are experienced by children who are directly abused.

25-403.03. Domestic violence and child abuse

A. Notwithstanding subsection D of this section, joint legal decision-making shall not be awarded if the court makes a finding of the existence of significant domestic violence pursuant to section 13-3601 or if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there has been a significant history of domestic violence.

B. The court shall consider evidence of domestic violence as being contrary to the best interests of the child. The court shall consider the safety and well-being of the child and of the victim of the act of domestic violence to be of primary importance. The court shall consider a perpetrator’s history of causing or threatening to cause physical harm to another person.

C. To determine if a person has committed an act of domestic violence the court, subject to the rules of evidence, shall consider all relevant factors including the following:

  1. Findings from another court of competent jurisdiction.
  2. Police reports.
  3. Medical reports.
  4. Records of the department of child safety.
  5. Domestic violence shelter records.
  6. School records.
  7. Witness testimony.

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Decision-making Determinations

Although courts should consider evidence of domestic violence at every point in decision-making and visitation negotiations, there is no guarantee that judges will do so.

Women often report that violence plays a significant role in divorce proceedings, specifically regarding the issues of decision-making, visitation and child support.

Partner violence is a factor in anywhere from a third or a half of the cases where decision-making is disputed.

In disputed family court cases, somewhere between 15 percent and 25 percent show substantiating evidence of physical abuse, such as prior arrest, criminal court finding or court order.

Many abusers appear to use the legal system to maintain contact and harass their ex-partners, at times using extensive and lengthy litigation.

Many women compromise on their demands for resources during divorce negotiations for fear of losing decision-making of their children.

In cases of domestic violence, fathers who contest decision-making win sole or joint decision-making up to 70 percent of the time.

Joint decision-making precludes separation between a victim and her abuser, because the parents must transfer children and have joint decision-making. This ongoing communication provides excessive, yet legally required, opportunities for the batterer to continue his abuse.

Courts seem to ignore abuse and privilege the father-child relationship despite the danger, concluding that father estrangement is more traumatic to children than paternal abuse and giving decision-making of the children to the abuser.

In spite of evidence of violence against women and/or their children, the courts consistently ordered sole or joint decision-making to perpetrators in 74 percent of the cases in Maricopa County and 56 percent of the cases in the other counties combined.

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